Part Two: Israel, Egypt, Jordan & Turkey
After we left home on October 4, we spent most of the next 65 days sightseeing in India, Israel, Egypt, Jordan, and Turkey.
I have already sent you a report on our travels in India. This report covers Israel, Egypt, Jordan and Turkey, where we spent 22 days starting November 14. It is composed of four brief sections:
Section One: General
Normally when traveling abroad, we have pre-arranged transfers from and to airports and train stations, even when we are not joining an organized group tour. But this time our travel agent persuaded us to hire a taxi by ourselves at Istanbul and Tel Aviv. Now after our experiences at both places, we have decided to stick to our usual policy, especially in a country where we are likely to have difficulty communicating with taxi drivers.
With incomplete address of our hotel, the taxi driver we hired at Istanbul Airport had difficulty locating it. He tried to leave us first at a different hotel, and several minutes later by the roadside, claiming that road to the hotel had been blocked. When we refused to go along with his attempts to dump us, he did finally find our hotel.
Next day, outside the Egyptian Market, some taxi drivers demanded as much as 30 Turkish Liras for a trip back to our hotel for which we had paid only 9 Turkish Liras three hours earlier.
Inside the Tel Aviv Airport Arrival Hall, at 3:00 a.m., we were confronted by taxi drivers who demanded as much as 250 New Israel Shekels (NIS) for the 22-kilometre ride to the city. At the Taxi stand outside the Arrival Hall, we found a taxi for 130 NIS.
Lost & found
Upon arrival at our Tel Aviv hotel, we discovered that I had left my laptop in the trunk of our taxi. When we called the taxi company, we got a recorded message asking us to call after 8 a.m.
The laptop had all the pictures from our travels in Northeast India and Andaman & Nicobar Islands. Also, Kundan had kept some of her jewelry in the pocket of its case. We were afraid we had lost all that. But our anxieties were soon allayed, as we saw the taxi driver bring the laptop back to us!
We were not that lucky in Jerusalem, when Kundan lost her prescription sunglasses, at Yad-Vashem Holocaust Museum and I lost my wallet to a pickpocket just outside the garden believed by some to contain the cave where the body of Jesus Christ was kept after his crucifixion. I lost $95 in cash, $40 in Traveler’s Checks, a blank check, my Driver’s License, and other miscellaneous things. Fortunately, the Traveler’s Checks were replaced in a matter of few minutes, when six days later I had the opportunity to visit the American Express office at Aswan in Egypt.
Our travels in Israel, Egypt and Jordan were a part of an organized group tour entitled Lands of the Prophets offered by Insight Vacations (www.insightvacations.com). It consisted of three separate country-specific tours, each with its own tour director. It included between-country (and some within-Egypt) transfers by air.
In Israel, we are a group of only seven individuals, of whom I was the only male person. Two of this group were with us also in Egypt, where the total number was 17, including one honeymooning modeling couple from Australia. In Jordan, our group consisted of only Kundan and I, and we traveled there by a Mercedes car.
The highlights of our travels included our visit to the beautiful coastal city of Tel Aviv and its waterfront promenade. It was the best of all waterfront promenades we have seen so far. Also we enjoyed the picturesque Bahai Temple & Gardens in Haifa, the felucca (traditional sailboat) ride on the Nile at Aswan, the light-and-sound show at the pyramids of Giza, and shopping in the old Egyptian “Covered” Bazar in Istanbul.
Home, Sweet Home
During 65 days of our travels, we visited 32 cities, and 86 sites of historical, religious, scenic or tourist interest. Our travels involved 23 flights, 89 automobile trips, seven boat excursions, two train journeys, two horse carriage jaunts, and one elephant ride.
After living out of suitcases for 65 days, and after sleeping in 28 different beds, we were glad to return home and sleep in our own bed!